Theology

Holy Week Reminds Us of God’s Victory Over Satan

Seth Brickley

More than any other book, the Bible tells us the story of the world that we all find ourselves in. It tells us of the Creation of the universe, the fall of humanity, the global Flood, The Tower of Babel and the scattering that followed, the rise of the nation of Israel, and the deliverance of Israel from the Egyptians through God’s power. It tells us the rise of the Monarchy in Israel with great kings such as David and Solomon. Then Israel declined as it plunged into sin and was judged by God. He used the Assyrians and then the Babylonians to take the Israelites into exile. Not only was Jerusalem destroyed, but so was the Holy Temple. But then God brought Israel back to the land and they were able to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. This is Old Testament history in a nutshell.

But then we get to the New Testament era (the first century) where the most fascinating part of world history occurs. The same One who created this universe – the same One who is the author of all of history, enters the story.

Think about that.

The writer of the story of life becomes a personal, active character in the story. This would be like C.S. Lewis entering The Chronicles of Narnia or J.R.R. Tolkien entering The Lord of the Rings, but also so much more than that. God was indeed a character in the Old Testament as he worked in every event, but what happened in the first century was different. God became a human in the person of Jesus (John 1:14). He breathed the same air we breathe. He drank the same water. He ate the same food. What happened is that God, the second person of the Trinity, took on a new nature. He became the God-man, maintaining his full deity, while also being fully human.

He came to this earth on a mission. The apostle Paul describes this mission in 1 Timothy 1:15, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Two thousand years ago, while the God-man Jesus was in his thirties, the story of human history reached its peak. The great enemy of God, Satan, tried to ruin Jesus but failed. Though he successfully tempted the first human thousands of years before when Adam fell into sin (Genesis 3), it would not work with this Man. After tempting Jesus, Matthew 4:11 records that Satan walked away in defeat. But Satan was not done just yet.

He knew that God planned that this man before him, Jesus, would reign forever. This was predicted in the Old Testament (Isaiah 9:6-7), and Satan knows the Bible very well). But what he didn’t know is that Jesus needed to be sacrificed to reconcile humans to God. Satan evidently believed that it was enough for people to believe in God (like Abraham in Genesis 15:6) with no permanent, once-for-all sacrifice necessary as the book of Hebrews explains was always necessary (Hebrews 9:26).

We can understand this because Satan was actively working for the crucifixion of Jesus. As the apostle John records, “the Devil put it in the heart of Judas to betray Jesus” (John 13:2). Satan irrationally thought he could still win, and that by killing Jesus he would be victorious. He failed in the temptation, but he believed he would succeed in instigating Jesus’ murder. But what Satan didn’t realize is that this crucifixion he planned by influencing the Jews and Judas would also be his undoing (1 Corinthians 2:8). By delivering Jesus up to be crucified he was committing suicide. The Lord who wills all things (Ephesians 1:11) knew what he was doing all along. As Scripture records, “For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:27-28). This was always the Lord’s plan, and as the events unfolded, it was a trap that Satan walked right into.

When Jesus went to the cross, he satisfied the holy wrath of God (Isaiah 53:10; Romans 3:24-25). The only way any human can be reconciled to God at any point in history is through the death of Christ. Through this event, Satan was humiliated and defeated as his efforts entirely backfired. The author of Hebrews writes that through his death Jesus destroyed, “the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). But the authors of Scripture can only describe this victory at the cross because they knew what happened the Sunday morning that followed. That morning Christ was raised gloriously from the dead (Matthew 28:1-10).

Every spring we celebrate what Jesus accomplished. It is the celebration of the pinnacle of events in human history when God was victorious over Satan in the death and resurrection of Christ. These yearly, grand events mark the time when sinners who believe in Christ are set free from the bondage that they were held under by sin and Satan (John 8:31-32). Because Christ was raised from the dead two thousand years ago, all those who belong to him will be raised along with him (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). We live every day with this certain hope (Philippians 3:21).

While God and His people are victorious, Satan is living on borrowed time. He has already been defeated but refuses to admit defeat. He tries to cause havoc (1 Peter 5:8), but can only do so as a defeated foe. The end of the Bible tells of his end: “And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, God and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:7-10).

Satan always thought he could defeat God, but was outsmarted through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Not only is God victorious, but through Him, we are as well. We truly have “overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:14).

During this holy week, let’s praise the Father and his Son Jesus for the victory planned and accomplished in the death and resurrection of Christ.

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